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Monday, September 28, 2009

Sodium in foods: how to lose excess weight by lowering your intake of salt/sodium.

To lose excess weight you need to avoid salt (sodium) and salty food. Eat low sodium food instead. Potassium-rich food and drink will also help because potassium displaces sodium from the body.

If you find it hard to cut down on salt, do it gradually. Your taste will gradually change. Try using pepper, herbs such as basil, chives, lemon grass, rosemary, parsley or coriander, spices such as chilli or ginger, balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, rather than salt, to add flavour to your food.

If you usually use stock cubes or oxo cubes when you are making soup or stew or a casserole, remember these contain a lot of salt. - Why not try using a small glass of wine to add flavour instead of using the high salt cubes?

If you feel you must use salt in cooking or to sprinkle on your food, you could try using LoSalt or Solo Low Sodium Sea Salt. - These mineral salts contain only about a third of the sodium present in ordinary salt and taste very similar to salt. This is still a high proportion of sodium, so use as little as you can manage and try gradually to reduce the amount you use.

In the USA there are other mineral salts that you can buy. One is called AlsoSalt and it contains no sodium at all so it is a good salt substitute for people needing to reduce sodium, but it still should be used in moderation. Another is called Nu-Salt and it also contains no sodium at all.

All of these salt substitutes have websites where you can read about them in greater detail. You should not use any of these salt substitutes if you have been told to minimise your potassium intake.

These mineral salts should be avoided by people who take certain medications, such as ACE inhibitors, which are used to lower blood pressure. And if you have kidney failure, you should not use a mineral salt without medical advice. But if you have kidney failure, you should already have been advised about restricting salt intake.

If you use convenience foods or eat ready meals, read the labels to find the lowest sodium/salt content. Choose canned vegetables marked 'no added salt' and products such as tuna canned in water, rather than in brine or oil.

More information and lists of high and low sodium foods and potassium foods here: Sodium in foods

Read my Mensa article on Obesity and the Salt Connection

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